The cause célèbre these days is indeed… bullying, with increasing numbers of egregious acts of cruelty, perpetrated by one child against another. Are teen bullies the worst humans on earth? Hardly. Bullying and other acts of aggression begin at a much earlier age. Independent studies have proven that the most violent of humans to be two year olds, observed on average to commit 8-9 acts of aggression each and every day. Biting, kicking, screaming, food throwing, hot tempered… two year olds. These are the worst humans on earth. We can only go up from there. As terrible two year olds, we begin the long process of “getting it together,” learning to not aggress, so that other humans may rely upon us to be fair and not bully, to be honest and not steal, to solve our differences through reason and a spirit of cooperation.
There is no act more important to the human socialization process than the guidance and discipline of parenting. In childhood, negative behavior, like bullying and other unfair acts toward others, are primarily corrected through the act of parenting, where expectations of better behavior are traditionally established. Not accomplished in one breath of expression, or a weekend seminar, parenting spans the e-n-t-i-r-e course of childhood, providing thousands upon thousands of parent/child interactions in support of the socialization process.
With 21st century communication providing both examples of how and an ease to accomplish bullying, some wrongly believe technology to be the cause of our perceived rise in this behavior. Yes, technology has helped to serve up the bullying pandemic we are experiencing today but it is more likely that it exists because we are doing less parenting than ever before, inadvertently producing more bullies than ever before. Here is why.
Not all children get the same amount of parenting, therefore the same amount of socialization input. A traditional two-parent family with one parent working, offers considerably more parenting hours than a two-parent family with both parents working. A single-parent home offers significantly less again. A household with four children, offers less parenting hours per child, than a household with two children. The 2010 U.S. Census data reveal a significant increase in single parent homes and in both working parent homes with a significant decline in traditional two parent, one working, homes. This equates to a 25% decline in available parenting hours from just one generation ago. The census data also indicates significant population growth in the demographic group with the largest average family size and the least amount of available parenting hours per child. Less parenting hours means less guidance and accountability. Less guidance and accountability means less socialization… and more bullying behavior, along with every other kind of youth offense including: hazing, drug and alcohol abuse, teen pregnancy, gangs, tagging, dropping out, etc.
Humans bully humans when they value the result of bullying more than the learned social values of fairness and respect for others. With the recent generational decline in parenting, youth today are “not getting the memo” and schools are “getting” more bullying, hazing, hate crimes, vandalism, and academic under-achievement. It is vital that our public schools and curriculum engage youth in expectations of better behavior as an augmentation to parenting. To learn more about what you can do to support values education for youth, go to https://www.teachvaluesnow.org
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